Quantum Pioneer Anton Zeilinger: From Teleportation to Star Trek Comparisons

Explore the world of quantum mechanics with Nobel Prize recipient Anton Zeilinger and his groundbreaking research on quantum entanglement and teleportation. Discover the fascinating and often paradoxical behavior of the tiniest particles, and how Zeilinger's work is laying the foundation for the future of quantum technology. Plus, learn about the unexpected pop culture references that have come to be associated with his work, including the moniker "Mr. Beam" and comparisons to "Star Trek.

Anton Zeilinger, recipient of the Nobel Prize in physics, is one of the most known Austrian scientists. The quantum scientist has made significant contributions to the foundations of quantum physics during his career. Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Vienna from 1999 to 2013, Director of the Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) from 2004 to 2013, and President of the National Academy of Sciences from 2013 to 2022. His most recognized effort to date in the scientific world, the first teleportation of a particle, which was soon compared to "beaming" from "Star Trek," has also earned him a household name.


The Swedish Academy of Sciences explained its decision to award the Nobel Prize in Physics to Alain Aspect, John Clauser, and Anton Zeilinger with the following statement: "Their experiments would have provided the base for a new age of quantum technology." Probably no other subject of science is as intricate and far beyond our comprehension as quantum mechanics. Quantum physics attempts to explain incomprehensible phenomena. Quantum science examines the behavior and interactions of the tiniest particles. More than a century ago, scientists began to unravel the operating laws of this quantum universe. Since then, scientists have discovered other phenomena that contradict common sense, such as the fact that particles can also possess wave qualities and that their state is constantly ambiguous and dependent on the time and kind of observation. What is a quantum? A quantum is the lowest unit of a physical quantity that is not divisible. In fact, it is the lowest unit of energy in a system. In comparison to an ocean, a quantum is a single, non-divisible drop. The word quantum derives from the quantized nature of its state. In other words, they only occur in certain, almost specified numbers, analogous to a switch that knows only a limited number of settings. A quant might then assume any of these roles, but not both. Multiple quanta can be entangled by the use of certain methods. Zeilinger conducted research on the phenomena of so-called quantum entanglement. Quantum entanglement is created when two quantum objects in a source are created simultaneously. There is a peculiar, everlasting relationship between two entangled quanta, regardless of their distance apart. If one of the quanta is then altered, the quantum that is entangled with it equally alters immediately and without delay. The three prizewinners studied that phenomena of quantum entanglement that Albert Einstein referred to as "spooky activity at a distance." Even if separated by thousands of kilometers, so-called entangled particles act as if they are one. If the state of one particle is altered, the state of the other particle immediately alters as well. In this manner, teleportation is possible, a phenomena that resembles beaming in science fiction films. Specifically this teleportation was researched by Zeilinger. His studies earned him the moniker "Mr. Beam," a reference to the famed "beaming" in the Star Trek television series. In 1997, Zeilinger accomplished the first state transfer from one light particle to another by entanglement, and hence the first teleportation. These quantum physics discoveries are now the foundation for upcoming innovations. The idea of entanglement is going to be used by so-called quantum computers. When information is modified on one computer, it is instantaneously and instantly available on the receiving machine. At the Nobel Prize Committee's press conference, Zeilinger stated, "I am still a bit shocked, but it's a good shock." On the day of the award, he highlighted that it was particularly essential to him that the prize serve as an incentive for young people. He stated that he could not have received the honor without the assistance of the countless young scientists with whom he has collaborated over the years. "Do what fascinates you, and don't worry too much about potential applications," he said. Anton Zeilinger is a member of RC Wien West.


Written by Anna-Sophie Landgraf, RC Graz Kunsthaus 

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